Don’t Want to Go to College? Here Are Viable Alternatives


There is a well-known sentiment in the business world, and it goes something like this: It’s important for everyone to write their own book rather than read someone else’s. Put otherwise, it’s best to carve your own path in the world, even if that path veers from tradition. For many people, this means an alternative to four-year college.

Whether you’re a recent high school graduate, a retiree looking to supplement income or anyone in between, there are many alternative education pathways to professional success. Here are just a few of them:

Become an Entrepreneur

Peter Theil once challenged students not to go to college and embark on entrepreneurship instead. To be sure, many famous entrepreneurs don’t have a college degree: Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Coco Chanel among them.

If you have ideas and motivation, there’s a solid chance you may succeed as an entrepreneur. One of the most viable options is to join ranks with a company that is already established, such as Amway. In the past six decades, Amway has paid out nearly $60 billion in bonuses and incentives to its distributors worldwide, a number that surpasses all other direct sales company throughout history. They help job-seekers gain in-demand skills through non-degree learning opportunities, and then provide ongoing training for success.

Enlist in the Military

When it comes to job security, benefits, education and promotional opportunities, the military is second to none. As of 2010, a Congressional Budget Report indicates that the average active duty soldier earns $99,000 annually, including pay and benefits, with approximately 60 percent of that being non-cash compensation. Plus, anyone who lusts for adventure is apt to relish the opportunities available through the military.

Attend Vocational or Trade School

Becoming a tradesman or enrolling in vocational school can be an excellent option for people who aren’t going to a traditional college, particularly for those who enjoy working with their hands. Doing so allows you to earn money while enrolled in training or learning a trade as an apprentice. Job security is nearly assured and pay is often impressive.

People who choose a vocational school often do so for the following reasons:

• They need to establish a career in a hurry
• They know what they want to do
• They want hands-on experience
• They need flexibility
• They want a high-demand career


Volunteering isn’t just a way to give back to the community; it’s also a viable option for people looking to gain job skills in a hands-on environment, gain access to experiences unlikely to happen in daily life, and build character.

In 2014, a federal study showed that 1 in 4 Americans volunteered through an organization and two-thirds helped their neighbors during the previous year. The estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $173 billion, an amount surmised from the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.

There are countless organizations to volunteer with depending on interests, skills and desire for relocation. The Corporation for National and Community Service is an option for high school graduates looking to stay within the United States. The agency aims to strengthen America’s nonprofit sector while addressing the nation’s challenges through volunteering. AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are well-known options that provide experiences within and outside of the United States.

Although there is an endless push for high school students to attend college immediately after graduation, this isn’t the only option available. Likewise, adults who have already started other careers can turn to these options for a meaningful alternative to university courses.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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